A mother assisted her two teenage daughters in “pre-creating” special memories with their terminally ill father after discovering he only has a few months to live.
Nicole Halbert, 41, from Texas, posted a touching Facebook post explaining her family’s tragic situation and how they’ve spent their remaining precious time together.
Teenagers Ashlee and Kaylee donned wedding dresses to stage ‘first dance’ photos with their father and film videos which will one day be played at their weddings.
In April, Nicole’s husband Jason, 51, was diagnosed with the aggressive and deadly Grade IV Glioblastoma Multiforme brain cancer.
Reflecting on the day of diagnosis, Nicole wrote: “That was the day our world changed. That was the day we heard “brain tumor in the brain stem.”
However, after Jason completed six weeks of radiation and several rounds of chemotherapy, the family were hit with more devastating news; the cancer had spread to his cerebral spinal fluid, known as Leptomenigeal Disease, and the devoted dad’s prognosis was 2-3 months.
Nicole recalls: “Your heart stops, you can’t hear, your breath becomes shallow. How were we supposed to tell our daughters? How were we supposed to plan our future?”
She describes her husband as “the most attentive father” to Kaylee, 18, and Ashlee, 16.
Nicole added: “The dreams they had of their daddy walking them down the aisle had come to a screeching halt.”
Except, when the girls asked if they could still have “their” dance with their father, it sparked an idea to stage a moment which would transcend Jason’s tragic diagnosis.
Nicole wrote: “We create memories, we recreate them, why not PRE-create a moment?”
With the help of dozens of friends, the family were able to create an emotional shoot on October 14. Their daughters were offered a location - Olde Dobbin Station in Montgomery, Texas - wedding dresses, and hair and make-up.
A professional photographer friend of Nicole’s even agreed to photograph the event in the middle of a busy season.
“These people didn’t just make this happen, they made it perfect”, Nicole wrote.
The stunning photographs, taken by Chubby Cheek Photography, show Jason hugging, and slow-dancing with his daughters, and walking them down the aisle.
Nicole referenced the quote “life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s learning to dance in the rain” and added: “Our girls and their daddy did just that.”
A videographer also filmed the event, although the family decided to keep this private.
By sharing the beautiful photographs, Nicole said she hoped to inspire others to precreate their moments, as well as raise awareness of Glioblastoma Multiforme and Leptomeningeal Disease.
She added: “When our girls look back at this chapter, I want them to remember not a journey of death, but a journey of life. Take the trip, snap the pictures, eat dessert first, go see your friends, play games with your kids, make your days matter! When you live your life surrounded by kindness and love, you have lived your life well.”
Nicole told Today: "It was heartbreaking but joyful. I hated that we had to do it, but I loved that we could do it.”
In a positive turn, on October 26, the family posted in their ‘Pray for J’ Facebook page that Jason is responding well to a cancer medicine, has improved symptoms and a slightly longer prognosis.
Nicole wrote: “We know better than anyone that things can change quickly but for now, for now we celebrate!”
The family have set up a GoFundMe page to help with Jason’s rising medical costs.
Words by Charlie Duffield